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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Is Wal-Mart Cheaper than Sewing Your Own? (Ty, Don't Read This)

I figure there is about a .0001 % chance that my little brother reads my blog about sewing, so it is safe to post his Christmas present. But if I am wrong, Tyrel, don't read this! Or I will give it to Brandon, and you will get a lump of coal.

I have heard lots of women say that they don't sew (anymore) because it's just cheaper to buy clothes at Wal-Mart. Is it?

I'd say yes and no. Sometimes, if you get fabric and patterns on sale or at a thrift store, it's cheaper to sew your own. I've made dresses that cost $2. I bought four yards of fabric at a thrift store for fifty cents, and if you use vintage patterns found at a thrift store, patterns can be 10 cents apiece, as opposed to the $8 or so that they cost new and not on sale.

But sometimes you can't find these wonderful deals, or you are making something like the shirt jacket that I made my brother for Christmas. Which, being lined, required somewhere along the lines of six yards of fabric. Which I did buy on sale. I bought the pattern, which is out of print, off of E-bay, so it cost a more than ten cents. All in all, I'd say materials cost around $20. The cost of the pattern can be spread out among the many projects I hope to make from it. While I was slaving over this shirt jacket (and believe me, I got to be good friends with my seam ripper) I saw that similar items (insulated flannel shirt jackets) cost around $15 at Wal-Mart.

The thing about Wal-Mart, though, is that the quality of the clothing is low. My husband has one of those cheap shirt jackets, and it falls apart a little more each time it is washed. And the cloth that I made Ty's shirt out of is moleskin, not the flannel that they make the shirts at Wal-Mart out of. And moleskin shirts cost a bit more than $15. Also, gray and black is a color combination that I believe Ty is fond of. I just did a google search for men's moleskin shirt jackets, and they all cost more than I spent on materials (from $25 for an unlined one, to $90 and considerably higher), and only one came in that color combination. Oh yeah, and Ty has monkey arms, so off the rack shirts in "his size" don't usually have long enough sleeves to suit him.

So sometimes, what you have to take into consideration is not, "Is it cheaper than Wal-Mart?" but "Is it cheaper than items OF SIMILAR QUALITY and the same material?" and "Can I find it in the colors/size/style that I want?"

Okay, stepping off the soap box now.


Erikka said...

did you take a class to be such a good sewer?

MadeByAmanda said...

In high school we did some sewing in home ec, and I was in 4-H for several years before that, which is when I sewed my first projects. But really, it's mostly from doing a lot of sewing in the last couple of years and working at getting neater, more professional looking results. Practice (and a willingness to go back and rip out stitches and redo) makes perfect. Not that I am claiming to sew perfectly. There are lots of people who do much better work than I do.

MadeByAmanda said...

Actually, to give credit where it is really due, my mom was the one who taught me the most about sewing. She was actually the one who helped me on the 4-H projects and answered all of my questions about how to read patterns (which I still find occasionally mystifying, and I still go to her for help on them sometimes)

knitsteel said...

Can we count the cost of the mental anguish involved in laboring over a sewing pattern?

MadeByAmanda said...

If we count the cost of mental anguish, then the value of anything I sew jumps quite a bit. Or knitting, for that matter. I could never sell a pair of knitted socks. There isn't enough money.

argylewhale said...

That shirt came out great and i completely agree with your post!

Anonymous said...

A couple of thoughts -

my husband was a big Wal-mart fan when we first met...but I soon noticed that while he could buy a pair of sneakers from there for $10-12 a pair, he bought a new pair every two or three months (keeping in mind that a "good" pair of sneakers, name brand and of recognized good quality cost about $40-50 then...) so in a year he spent more than he would have on a good pair that would last for more than a year...and it has been my experience that most items carried by the mart are of a similar level of (poor) quality.

The other thought is that I want my clothes to fit well, and I'm finding as I get older that ready to wear clothing (especially shirts and sweaters; I can usually locate pants that fit) doesn't fit my 40-something shape well and would require some major alteration to do so; I would rather sew my own "TNT" shirts that fit from the get-go - in the long run that is cheaper, and more comfortable!, than even the cheapest ready to wear.

- Jean Marie (blog-less)

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